Contemporary Animation Production: Pixarisation, Pipelines, Below-the-Line Outsourcing and Alternative Production Practices

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Contemporary Animation can be dated to the success of Pixar’s Toy Story (1995), with its success heralding the widespread adoption of CGI animation by Hollywood. Economic factors relevant to the multiple revenue streams for mainstream animation have both defined who can produce animated feature films, but also determined shared production strategies, framed production costs, and encouraged investment in proprietary software (whether CGI, technologies for motion capture, or to minimise creative labour in ‘traditional’ - or ‘tradigital’ - cel animation). Within this paper I explore these shared production strategies, and alternatives, and how these are presented, or elided, in promotional and practitioner discourses – through trade journals, DVD and online paratextual commentaries, interviews and featurettes. I outline Pixar’s influence across CGI animation production – focusing on proprietary technology, differentiation through high production value, the Pixar look alongside an iterative/perfectionist approach to story (the Story Trust), and collaboration between animators and software specialists. Besides this centralised creative model, of ‘digital’ collaboration as ‘fun’, competing studios have favoured dispersed or runaway animation production. Whether the “geographically distributed digital movie making of” Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me, the offshore, outsourced Warner Bros/Village Roadshow co-production The Lego Movie, or package unit production without a recurrent production pipeline.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2015
    EventNew Directions in Film & Television - University of West of England, Bristol, United Kingdom
    Duration: 14 Apr 201515 Apr 2015

    Academic conference

    Academic conferenceNew Directions in Film & Television
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • contemporary animation
    • production strategies
    • pipelines
    • outsourcing


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